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It was first introduced in 2006. The test is designed to give information on the candidates’ cognitive abilities through four reasoning tests, with a fifth test, the situational judgement test testing attitudes and professional behaviour. The test is used by universities to make more informed choices between medical and dental applicants. The UKCAT is designed to be a test of aptitude and attitude, not academic achievement. It attempts to assess a certain range of mental abilities and behavioural attributes identified as useful. These mental abilities include critical thinking as well as logical reasoning and inference. For candidates sitting the examination in summer 2017, the UKCAT consists of five subtests: four cognitive tests, and one testing your professional demeanour.
The candidate is given 22 minutes, with 11 passages to read and 44 questions to answer in that time. The candidate is allocated 32 minutes to answer 29 items associated with text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams. The candidate is given 25 minutes, 9 tables, charts, graphs etc. The candidate is allocated 14 minutes to answer 55 questions associated with sets of shapes. This section of the test is 27 minutes long, with 68 questions associated with 21 scenarios. The test is an online test taken at a Pearson Vue centre near the candidate. Candidates are not allowed to bring external materials in to the exam.
The equipment and conditions vary slightly between different test centers. Each of the UKCAT subtests is in a multiple choice format and is separately timed. There is no curriculum content, as the test is designed to probe innate skills. These include basic arithmetic, reading and writing ability, along with character, and personal and social attitudes. Past papers are not available. There are however specimen questions and fully timed practice tests on the UKCAT website.
All candidates are urged to read this attentively. The UKCAT Consortium recommend that candidates prepare for the test, and provide materials on their site to assist. Websites do offer practice questions and support, allowing candidates to prepare for the UKCAT. However none of these resources, books, or courses are endorsed by the UKCAT Consortium. The UKCAT Consortium specifies, “Every university uses the UKCAT result as part of a well-rounded admissions policy in which several other factors also carry considerable weight. Who should take the test?